Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Monday said that his government has taken it as a challenge to conduct future examinations fairly in view of the topper scam for the second consecutive year but it has “miles to go to plug all loopholes”. A year after state board Arts topper Ruby Rai was arrested, Patna police on Friday nabbed this year’s topper in the stream, Ganesh Kumar, on the charge of appearing for the examination on forged documents.
“We have taken the episode (toppers scam for second consecutive year) as a challenge to conduct exams in the future more effectively. We focused on checking question paper leaks and bungling in evaluation process. But wrongdoers find ways somehow,” Kumar told reporters here. “We have miles to go to plug all loopholes and conduct the exam in a free and fair manner. We do not believe in casting a veil on the shortcomings.
“As soon as irregularity regarding the arts topper (Ganesh Kumar) surfaced, I directed officials not to waste time in ordering probe and to lodge an FIR and arrest the wrongdoers involved in the exam racket,” he said. In a re-run of last year’s class XII arts topper scam when Ruby Rai had pronounced political science as “prodigal science”, which she said, was about cooking, this year’s topper Ganesh Kumar struggled to explain the basics of music, one of his subjects.
Also, Kumar who is 42-year-old, appeared in the exam on forged documents which showed him to be of 24 years, to secure a government job. He has been sent to jail and the principal and other officials of the Samastipur school from where he appeared for the examination was also arrested. The topper stumbled over queries posed by the media on music, in which he scored 65 out of 70 in practicals. In an interview to a TV news channel, Kumar said singer Lata Mangeshkar is known as ‘Maithili Kokila’, a title bestowed on folk singer Sharda Sinha, who is from Samastipur, where his school is situated.
He seemed to have a difficult time explaining what is ‘sur’, ‘taal’ and ‘matra’, considered the basics of music. Asked what did he do in music practicals, he unrhythmically sang a few lines of a Bollywood number. Speaking to mediapersons, the chief minister said, “Are exam arrangements a model one in any corner of the country? Attempts are always made to tarnish image of Bihar by none other than the natives.”
He referred to reports of candidates from Haryana cracking an exam conducted by Tamil Nadu postal circle to recruit people for postman and mail guard posts, by scoring high in Tamil language. A CBI probe is on in this regard. “It has emerged that a large number of candidates from Haryana, except one, have scored similar marks in 24 questions of Tamil language to succeed in the competitive exam in the southern metropolis,” Kumar said.
“After pictures of people climbing a school building at Vaishali to supply chits in the matriculation exam came into light in 2015, we worked hard to stop cheating. Due to strict conduct of class XII exam by Bihar School Examination Board (BSEB), this year the pass percentage has dropped to about 35 per cent,” he said.
In 1996 too, following the direction of the Patna High Court to check cheating in exams, the pass percentage in the exams conducted by the BSEB had fallen to as low as 15 per cent, the chief minister said. Kumar said he has directed officials concerned to prepare an “action plan” for improving school infrastructure and also teachers and education department officials will be held accountable for non-performance of any school. The chief minister said he has ordered survey of schools which have faired poorly – some even witnessing none of its students passing in the class XII exam this year – and initiating action against teachers and education department officials not performing their duty properly.